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Starting Jazz Piano for Beginner

Jazz is like a beautiful explosion of sounds and emotions.


It has an exquisiteness and richness, range and diversity, and this bland definition isn’t enough to truly explain jazz.


If you are one of those avid jazz lovers who wish to get into the groove and learn how to properly play some jazz piano music, then it all has to start with learning jazz piano chords.


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Learning jazz piano for beginners can be somewhat overwhelming. That’s why it is important to start with some easy piano chords.


You need to keep on practicing to master the chord quality as it empowers you to explore a new genre with fair ease. Although learning the basic jazz piano chords has many benefits, 5 most significant ones are:

  • You get to start ahead than the others
  • They help you build a strong foundation of playing piano keyboard
  • They provide good practice and warm up and help pave a path for you to be more creative
  • They can help you improvise jazz piano better
  • They can help elevate your knowledge of melody

Types of Seventh Chord You Need to Learn

Before we get to know more about the 5 important jazz piano chords, first we need to know about the 7th chord.


7th Chord can be explained as an extension to triad chord which makes the chord sound jazzy. As compared to triads, the seventh chord is responsible for creating much fuller sound. In jazz music, the seventh chord generates more affluent harmonic progressions. The explanation of basic jazz chords below comes along with piano chord diagrams.

  • Major 7th Chord

The Major 7 chord has a much softer sound as compared to the dominant seventh. It can be created on a major scale by playing the first, third, fifth, and seventh notes. If we look at the interval relationship, it has to be root(1), major third(M3), perfect fifth(P5), and major seventh(M7). It can also be built off of a major triad as well.

  • Minor 7th Chord

The Minor 7 chord also gives a jazzy feel and has a softer sound which can have a soothing effect on the listener if played correctly. It is created the same way as major 7 chord except the first, third, fifth, and seventh notes are created of the natural minor scale. The internal relationship for the minor 7 chord is root(1), minor third(m3), perfect fifth(P5), and minor seventh(m7).

  • Dominant 7th Chord

This is considered as one of the most important chords used in many ways. It is also used a lot in creating blues music and many jazz chord progression. With an unstable sound, this chord is responsible for giving movement and tension to a piece of music. It can be created of the major scale by playing the first, third, fifth, and flat seventh notes. Dominant 7 chord has an interval relationship which is root(1), major third(M3), perfect fifth(P5), and minor seventh(m7).

  • Minor 7(b5) Chord

Also knows as the half-diminished seventh chord, this is used for giving a feeling of tension. Once you take a diminished triad, add a note of minor seventh (10 semitones) in it above the root and this way you can easily create a half-diminished seventh chord.

  • Diminished 7th Chord

It gives a distinctive scary and tense feel and that’s why this is by far the strangest sounding chords. Once you take a diminished triad, simply add a note of diminished seventh (9 semitones) above the root to create a diminished 7th chord.

The Bottom Line

So the piano chords mentioned-above pretty much cover the basics of 7th chords. Keep on practicing looking at chord symbols and figure out the note fast and try to experiment with different inversion. Try to notice how different notes move between one another. Make sure you practice these basic jazz chords until you get to a point that you’re familiar with the sound and quality. Your goal should be to achieve the state where you can play all these chords in 12 keys. Keep up the hard work and remember that persistence is the key to success.

Categories: Music Theory